Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Craftsteak (Mashantucket, CT/Foxwoods Resort Casino)

I was really excited to try Craftsteak, one of the Craft family of restaurants owned by celebrity chef (and "head judge" of Bravo's Top Chef franchise) Tom Colicchio, and arguably the flagship restaurant of the MGM Grand at Foxwoods; sadly, I ended up a little disappointed by the food.  That is not to say that the food was bad, or even mediocre; in fact, it was quite good, but when eating at a restaurant owned by someone who is supposed to be among the masters of the steak world, I really expected something transcendent.

The bar at Craftsteak
I sat at the bar, which, while dimly lit, is a pretty decent atmosphere to grab a drink or a bite to eat if you do not feel it necessary to sit in a fancy dining room; there is a flat screen television in the middle of it that was playing the Red Sox game, and the chairs are relatively comfortable.  The darkness wasn't a huge problem for me,  but if you don't have good eyes, it probably would be a bit too dark to easily read the menu; I can guarantee that my grandparents would not be able to read in that light.

Spinach salad with bacon and blue cheese
I went with the prix fixe menu, which includes a salad, a choice of two entrees, and a choice of two desserts.  The salad, consisting primarily of spinach, was the highlight of the meal, with cubes of crispy bacon a centimeter across, some Bayley Hazen blue cheese from the Cellars at Jasper Hill, and some kind of delicious dressing that I could not quite identify.  The bacon was spectacular, salty and succulent, and the cheese was great, with a sweeter taste than most blues, but with that classic flavor you associate with the variety.  There were also balls of what I think may have been confit pearl onions, which were pretty tasty, as well as some hard-boiled egg that did not really add anything.  This was a good example of what a salad can be; not something you eat just because you need some green vegetables, but a legitimately good, major part of a meal.  With the salad came a small skillet of "Parker House" rolls, which are pretty boring with the exception of the fleur de sel sprinkled over the top.

The entrees were a Scottish Salmon with spring garlic and fava beans or a Filet Mignon with black garlic and confit potatoes.  Figuring it was a steakhouse, I went with the filet; it was a pretty big
Filet Mignon with black garlic and confit potatoes
piece, considering the $45 price of the prix fixe, and it was reasonably well cooked, but for some reason, they slice it for you!  I do not get this; why would you take a beautiful piece of meat and cut it into pieces?  It makes the filet look terrible on the plate, like it has been mangled, and does not add anything to it as far as enjoying the meal.  That said, it tasted fine, though it was a little chewy for a filet; I do not know if this is an issue with the quality of the meat or what, but it was nowhere near as good texturally as the filet at David Burke Prime.  The potatoes were great, as was that black sauce you can see drizzled around the plate, but that was not enough to make up for the fact that the filet was lacking.

Raspberry Rosé and Mango sorbets
The dessert options are a Chocolate Espresso Tart or two scoops of your selection from a dozen or so ice creams or sorbets.  I went with the Raspberry Rosé and Mango sorbets, which were both good, but the mango far, far outstripped the raspberry.  The raspberry was a little bit too tart, giving me a pretty nasty canker sore, but the mango was spectacular, probably the best sorbet I have had in many years, and equal to most ice creams.  It was similar in texture to a good gelato, though clearly without the same level of fat content, which was fine with me.

Mystic Bridge IPA
With the meal I had the Mystic Bridge IPA, one of four beers on tap, from Cottrell Brewing Company, a Connecticut brewery that has some pretty well regarded beers on BeerAdvocate, including this one.  I was not paying a huge amount of attention to the beer, quite honestly, focusing more on the food, but it was quite good, a really solid IPA, though admittedly it did not stand out to me.  I would love to pick up a six pack of it to really get a better idea of where its strong and weak points are.

Overall, it seems like the restaurant makes an effort to keep things relatively local where they can, including the beers, the cheese, and some other produce.  This is a distinct positive in my mind, but at the same time, if they cannot make the overall quality of the meal stand up to that of the ingredients, then it is a waste.  I would absolutely choose Burke Prime over Craftsteak if I were eating at Foxwoods, and it would not be a difficult decision at all.


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